February 7th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Calif. same-sex marriage ban violates Constitution, appeals court finds

[Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET] California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to be appealed, to either the full court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. But supporters of same-sex marriages cheered the decision when it was announced outside the courthouse Tuesday morning.

The 2-1 decision found the ban - known as Proposition 8 - "served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." That violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law, the decision states.

The 9th Circuit, in a hearing just over a year ago, indicated it was inclined to toss out Proposition 8. The court also rejected arguments by supporters of the ban that now-retired federal judge Vaughn Walker - who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional in 2010 - should have recused himself and let another judge hear the case.

Walker disclosed after his retirement that he is gay and in a long-term relationship, leading Proposition 8 advocates to argue he should have stepped aside.

California's Supreme Court had allowed same-sex marriages in California. But Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote in 2008, bringing an end to the practice.

Prior to Walker's ruling, the California Supreme Court allowed that initiative to stand, saying it represented the will of the people.

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Filed under: California • Gay and lesbian • Proposition 8
soundoff (257 Responses)
  1. Jebadiah

    This is a bad day for religious fanatics who try to legislate they're hate filled beliefs on the citizens of this country.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Teddy

    It is a sad day indeed!

    February 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DianaV

    The people of California have voted many times on this issue, for an activist court like the 9th to keep on spewing edicts that contradict the people's will is outrageous.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JSS

      If segregation had made it to a ballot would you have supported allowing that state to continue treating blacks as second-class citizens because it was the popular opinion at that moment?

      February 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC

      No. They overturned the ability of the bigots of California to actively deny civil rights to an entire group of people based on nothing more than a religious objection that never should have been validated in the first place. They did their job, and they did it well.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      yeah outrageous to declare the consti tution prohibits it huh? lol.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cody S.

    Interesting to say the least. What happened to democracy? If the majority voted to have it banned, then that is what the people agreed upon. Why bother having a vote if you're just going to ignore the results? If the people wanted a ban in California, then this is where democracy should kick in.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • glossolalia

      We don't live in a democracy. Back to high school civics class with you.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Using your logic means that if the majority voted to bring back slavery then that is what should happen because majority rules.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Grant

    What's the saying, takes one to know one.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason Guy

    Praise God for the ruling and hope the Supreme Court makes the right choice!! . It's not just about marriage, but also for the countless children in perfectly healthy, normal, gay families that get discriminated and robbed of rights if they loose a gay parent in death, as goes for the partners! Wake up people, it's not about a man and a woman, way more involved. We have cultured as a human race, and the bigotry and racial discrimination has GOT to end if we are to survive as a human race in cooperative and compassionate living with equal rights for ALL.. Amen and Amen.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Word.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. truth

    All that money the churches wasted on pushing their bigotry. They could have been using that money to defend more or pay off victims of their pedophile priests, bishops and pope.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • EqualRights

      Maybe feed the poor etc.....you know what it says in the bible.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Catholic, are you?
      Did being Catholic turn you gay?

      February 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Charlie

    Well leave it to the 9th to get another one wrong and ignore the will of the people

    February 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Until there is an Amendment, the will of the people HAS been upheld.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeRational

      How are we supposed to force our religious views onto others and deny them of basic human rights if we have a court system that insists on protecting c o n s t i t u t i o n a l rights?

      February 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Hitler represented the Will of the People in Europe some 80 years ago. So much for the Will of the People. We live in a Republic. You vote for the leaders but it is not rule of the masses. This is not a social democracy.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      BeRational: Lol How, indeed…

      February 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      If we listened to the will of the people, segregation would still be legal, interacial couples could not get married etc...

      February 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fred

    What a colossal waste of money and energy. Why even bother with having elections or voting. Why not just have the 9th court present their ideas to the supreme court and then you dont even need to deal with those pesky taxpayers with their votes and whatnot. Seems like a very hitler-esque thing to do.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I agree. I think we should imprison people like you. No reason to vote on it. We should prevent you from having a job to. I just don't like you. I want a vote on it. Let's vote people! Should we ruin Fred's life because, well, we just don't like him? Vote Yes! Save the planet.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • snc735

      LOL Rob!

      February 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hap Hazzard

      Agreed, Fred has intentionally invoked Godwin's Law and should be punished. Remove his rights and citizenship.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Godwin’s law rules…

      February 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kyle

    First off.... learn to spell. Second, if you do not like gay marriage, they don't marry a gay person. I mean, it is completely legal for me to buy lottery tickets, but I do not like it... so i do not buy them. Simple solution

    February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DG

    @t3chsupport:

    How can you claim this religion in politics? I believe that we live in a majority rules society and whether it is the moral majority or that of people who just find it unnatural from a reproduction standpoint(even call them scientific), they spoke and agreed it should be banned. Seems like that how our political systems works, laws get passed etc...

    February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah

      We do not live in a pure majority rules systems. That's why there is a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, to define some rights as so fundamental that not even a majority vote of the moment can take them away. This law is a perfect example; in a civil aka government marriage, it's an agreement between 2 consenting adult to live together as a family unit. The decision says that government can't privilege the agreements between one set of consenting adults and deny that same privilege to another set, for no rational reason. It has nothing to do with religious marriages; those still go according to the rules of each religion.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. bluiis0112

    So, the general assembly asked the citizens of Cali their opinion. They give their opinion and the court system changes their opinion. Isn't that a violation of the 1st amendment? If the members of Westboro Baptist Church can demonstrate at a funeral because they think all the dead deserve being killed, and that is covered by the 1st amendment, then voting on Prop 8 is also covered as a type of free speech.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC

      The WBC doesn't have legal authority over people's lives and futures. Prop 8 did. Big difference.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      The court did not change their opinion. It changed how the government can affect people's daily lives. They can still desire that gay marriage be illegal, they just can't do it without gaining a 2/3 majority in Congress and get 3/4 of the states to agree.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • KH

      The difference is that the Westboro people aren't trying to take away or deny rights to a group of people. They are just voicing their opinions that it is wrong (I don't agree with them or their tactics, though). Prop 8 denied a group of people rights based on who they are, and that is not protected by the first amendment. It is long established that the majority cannot deny rights to the minority, and the Supreme Court has a record of protecting the rights of the minority from the wishes of the majority to suppress them based on whatever reasons, be it fear or religious beliefs or whatever.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeppers

      Your right to free speech ends where the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness begins for someone else.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    Is there a reason why C o n s t i t u t i o n is a banned word? How can we talk about this issue without bringing up the highest law of the land?

    February 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC

      I have no idea. I just noticed that, too. Bizarre.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeRational

      Because conservatives who want to force their religion on others think it is a dirty word.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • t3chsupport

      I dunno. Maybe because it contains the word t!t.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Exactly why. It contains the word t!t in it.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DC

    The amount of people who honestly believe the the "will" of the bigots can and should be allowed to override the US C o n s t i t u t i o n is frightening.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeRational

      How are we supposed to force our religious views onto others and deny them of basic human rights if we have a court system that insists on protecting constltutional rights?

      February 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hark

    More BS from the 9th U.S. Court of Idiots......be sooooo proud California, your state loves to trample on the vote of the people! Disgusting to say the very least.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      If by "vote of the people" you mean vote of special interest groups. This decision is the will of the people and the right by the c o n s t i t u t i o n.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeRational

      The California State Supreme Court upheld Prop 8. This is not California overturning the people's vote.
      It is the federal courts denying California the right to trample on the US Constltution.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
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